[DEPRECATED] Ask Alexa 2.3.7

Version 2.37 of Ask Alexa

I am pleased to announce the 2.3.7 version of Ask Alexa! In this version I continue (along with help from the community) to evolve the application to allow more conversational syntax, along with adding more functionality for existing and new devices.

This app is used for those who are not happy with simply with simply saying “Alexa, turn on the living room”. If you are curious about the STATUS of a light, or run a very complex set of instructions (or even use a little bit of logic to choose what runs), then this program is for you. While the thread is long, I recommend you start with the first paragraph here ([RELEASE] Ask Alexa).

This will be a simple upgrade (Scenario 1 http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Frequently_Asked_Questions_.28FAQs.29). Simply upgrade your IDE code and you should be set!

PLEASE NOTE: Now that this app is rather stable (It is now 2 years old!) now I will be updating it less frequently except for bugs and new features. I am waiting for Amazon to release their ‘push’ notifications where some amazing stuff will happen with this app. Until then, if you do have a great feature idea for this app, just let me know.

Other additions to this new version include:

  • Create xParams in App For those power users that are using the power of WebCoRE with Ask Alexa, this update is for you. Previously, you would be required if you were using the xParam function of the WebCoRE Macros you would have to populate the LIST_OF_WCP manually. Not a hard thing to do, but it excluded you from using the new setup process for the developer site. Now you can create the list of parameters within the app (Settings>>xParams For WebCoRE Macros>>). This list is then populated when you run the developer code creation.
  • Support for MyNext Manager Please see the partner announcements below, but @yvesracine has released a new Nest SmartApp for your thermostats, cameras and smoke detectors. The Ask Alexa integration allows for tips and reports to be verbally given to you via the versatile Message Queue.

Partner Announcements
I am proud to announce product number 20 that is compatible with Ask Alexa’s message queue capability. The MyNext Manager for Nest Products. This came ‘out of the box’ with Ask Alexa support. Check it out here: ** NEW ** [RELEASE] Resilient MyNextManager & MyNext Devices for your Nest® products with native UI (for best & faster rendering on Android/iOS) & all ST standard capabilities + high refresh rates!

For those with IDE integration with GitHub, simply update the repository and you will have the latest code for the SmartApp itself. It is recommended up update the utterances as there are some new ones available.

All of you have been great in asking very relevant questions and making suggestions that I end up using. Here are some helpful tips on usage and support:

  • Sometimes it works best if I can work real time with you. To facilitate this, I have created a Slack channel: https://askalexa.slack.com. Using this tool is easy and will allow for real-time collaboration to solve the problems faster. To use this feature, I must invite you to the Slack channel. This will not be for normal questions; please use this forum for that function.
  • The Echo, as it is designed currently, cannot react to switches opening or other actions within SmartThings. She will do things for you, but only at your direction and at the time of the request. The delay timer mentioned in the control macro happens at the SmartThings hub, not within the Amazon Alexa control. See the new Message Queue functions for similar functionality with Big Talker!
  • When evaluating new features I will typically ask for a valid use case. If it can be used by others to bring them value I will put it on my list of future revisions. Not all suggestions will be used and many times I add aspects of the request.
  • There are no dumb questions, but many of the questions you may have were probably answered in the year since the initial release. Please take some time to go through the forum and the wiki if you have issues. And don’t be offended if I give you the specific area of the manual that answers your question. I have spent almost as much time on the documentation as I have on the app. Finally, there are some big fans of Ask Alexa that know almost as much as I do. They can also help.
  • Feel free to send me forks of utterances or even code revisions. As mentioned above, if it adds value to the overall program I will try to include it. This also goes for the wiki documentation…while I have spent over a year and a half creating this document, I am open to it being improved; I know there are probably still grammatical errors or syntax issues…If you find them, fix them…I will include your name (if I can) in any fixes submitted.
  • If you find a bug or a consistent crash please help me track it down by giving me repeatable steps to reproduce it. A non-reproducible bug, many times, indicates other areas that may be at fault besides the app. If you watch the live logging and see a red error with a line number, that is very helpful to me! However, I will need a full screenshot and not a copy/paste of the text. But be careful about revealing your OAuth and AppToken in your public posts. People can control you house with that information. You may want to blur that out.

As mentioned above, revisions will be less and less now. And with the code base now unified, I expect less and less additions…especially as I partner with other application developers to ensure their strengths can be brought into the notification model of Ask Alexa . Any and all suggestions are still on the table for addition.

As always, I appreciate any public accolades or even donations to my PayPal account: https://www.paypal.me/mstruck . And, if you are so inclined, I also will accept bitcoins (or fractions thereof) if you have any laying around. My wallet ID is: 1CMgaiKgBfojTBCLpHLfa9KvcrW3cNxVpm


Thank you for your work on this. I have a question relating to the github repository. Yours show up in green which I know that means the file is in the IDE only. Wondering if I skipped a step here with that. I know I set up my github account correctly as I am using tenesto7’s nest manager just fine.

Each individual app from each author needs to be set up individually…Green indicates you have not set up my github address yet…you can find the detail here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Advanced_Installation


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Thanks for the quick reply. I realized I accidently used a capital letter for Master and changed it to master. That fixed it and everything is updated. Perfect. I noticed a bunch of new ones from github on the update page. A lot of them are for ask alexa ( PNG’s, Intent schema, Node ext. ) Should I be using those as well?

Those are the extensions, which are outlined near the same article I sent you…They give you a lot of the additional features like room control, or voice reports. I consider them ‘mandatory’ to really get the full power of Ask Alexa.

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Awesome, thanks again.

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No problem…enjoy!!

I just want to be able to use phrases like “Alexa Open Garage Door” - “Alexa Close Garage Door” - “Alexa Unlock Studio Door” - “Alexa Unlock Studio Door”

Right now I am stuck with Using the words Turn On and Turn Off as Alexa does not respond to the Open/Close or Unlock/Lock Commands

Will this app allow that functionality?

Yes…absolutely. However, there IS the added invocation word you need to put in…So it would be something like “Alexa, tell the house to open the garage” or “Alexa, ask SmartThings to close the garage” where “the house” or “SmartThings” is your invocation word.

The other option to completely skip the need (possibly) for Ask Alexa and instead use my other app, Alexa Helper…allows you to translate the on/off of a virtual switch to an open/close or lock/unlock. You would then use the built in Alexa routines to change the state of the virtual switch which in turn would unlock a door. The advantage is that a routine can be worded as you like, so you can then have the flexibility to us open/close/lock/unlock.

Of course, Ask Alexa allows you to do this exact same thing, but is more complex in what it can do with the invocation word.

Let me know if that makes sense.

Makes total sense! Thanks for the reply. I just need basic functionality and Ask Alexa has so many features and uses it makes my head hurt. :slight_smile: Im going to investigate Alexa Helper as it may fit my needs.

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My personal experience with Alexa routines has been that while she has no problem turning an Alexa Helper switch on and off, is that they won’t respond within an Alexa Routine. I had to place the Alexa Helper switch in an Alexa Group, and add the Alexa Group to the Alexa Routine. It still gets the job done, but needed that extra step.


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Again, most of these are ‘hacks’ to get desired results. Personalizing the experience really takes an app like Ask Alexa where you can define the actions and responses to your liking.

Hi @MichaelS great work thanks.
I can’t seem to find the links to Amazon to update the utterances etc and it’s been so long i didn’t bookmark them :frowning:
I’ve just updated the smartapp and configured my devices why is it saying recommended not to use the same device in more than one category?
As the multi sensors can go in multiple.
Also last bit sorry :frowning:
Am i right in thinking i can now send a text to speech command to Alexa to play created by a WebCore piston?
I can’t seem to find info about your Macros and Message centre are for so wasn’t sure if that’s what they can do.

Hey Steve!

Not sure what you mean by ‘links’. These are generated ‘on the fly’ by the app when you go to Settings>>Setup Variables. There is now a single step method that you only have to copy one piece of code in order to update the developer area. If you are referring to the developer area, it is developer.amazon.com (which is also hyperlinked on the Setup Variables page that is generated by the app.)

Think of it like this…if you have 3 devices in your bedroom, all named ‘bedroom lights’…and you say “Alexa, tell Smart Things to turn off bedroom lights”…which one would she do? If you intended all of them, you would be better served to put them in a group because you lost the ability with the naming to control each device individually. To solve the problem with a multi function device, you can get the additional parameters of a device (in the settings menu) to choose to give that information, or the ‘primary’ function by which category you choose it in.

Yes…You can use a WebCoRE Trigger macro to fire a piston…

Let me know if this answers your question!

Yeah thanks Micheal that makes sense now about the multiple devices :slight_smile:
It was just the main Amazon developer link but I’ll use that through the setup variables that sounds good.
So I’m guessing i need to create a relevant macro and then I’ll be able to select that from within a WebCore piston.
I will be reading more into it tonight when I’m home (I’m meant to be working now :slight_smile: )
Thanks for that

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sorry to bother you again but i’m struggling a bit trying to setup text to speech for alexa,
I’ve updated everything now and installed the Message Queue.
I’ve just been reading through your wiki and can’t figure out which method will do what i want , what i have at the moment as a basic piston that does a text to speech to a tablet with LANannouncer when someone arrives home.
if you could point me in the right direction on how i can get alexa to read out the text instead of the LANannouncer.
i was thinking i do it through the Ask Alexa macros and point it to the piston and i entered some info etc but wasn’t sure so looked into the Message Queues thinking that was the way.

So, from an Ask Alexa side you feel all is working? This includes a WebCore Trigger that that is supposed to activate a DO piston in WebCore?

Probably best to send me a PM of your piston and walk through HOW you want this to operate. Ask Alexa really works on voice commands, if you want the speakers REACT to an event, Big Talker is probably a better tool to use. The message queue is really good as a central place to have messages go and store or play them in real time (on a Connected speaker).

Does that all make sense?

2.3.7 has been deprecated…long live 2.3.8.